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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 10:45 pm, 19th October 2010

If the hon. Gentleman accepts the principle that votes should be equalised, he disguised it well in his very long contribution. We had a wide debate on this group of amendments. At one point it looked like a clause stand part debate, and at another like a Bill stand part debate, given the amount of material we considered. Most Members were relatively continent, but then we had the hon. Gentleman. When I suggested that we have an extra hour for this debate this evening because of the earlier statement, I did not appreciate that it would be taken up almost entirely by him.

On previous groups of amendments, it seemed that the hon. Gentleman had not properly read the Bill, but on this group of amendments, it seemed that he had not read his own proposals. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that he was deliberately trying to avoid speaking to his amendments. Members listening to the debate might have assumed that his proposal was to slow down the process set out in the Bill. They might have thought that in amendment 127, to which he never referred, he was proposing to extend the period for the Boundary Commission to do its job, but no, that was not his proposition. If anyone cares to look at the amendment paper, they will see that amendment 127 suggests that far from the Boundary Commission doing its job in three years, as proposed in the Bill, it should do it one year, which is entirely contrary to everything that he said in his contribution. He persuaded Austin Mitchell, who is not in the Chamber, that he had a sensible suggestion, but he did not persuade me.

If hon. Members listened to the hon. Member for Rhondda, they might have assumed that it would be difficult for boundary commissions to do their job within the resources and time available, but they might not realise that each boundary commission gave evidence to the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform and rebutted that suggestion in terms, saying that they had the resources and the capability, and that there was no problem whatever.